‘Star Wars’ Character Rey’s Lack Of Toys Has Hasbro On The Hook For Gender Inequality

Many Star Wars fans have voiced their observation regarding Rey’s character not being adorned with gadgets so unlike her father, Luke Skywalker. Hasbro has been made aware of Rey’s absence in Star Wars merchandising. Here is a second look at what is being done about the social media uproar, #WheresRey.

Star Wars director J.J. Abrams was the first to apologize for it. In a January article by the Guardian, Abrams was quoted as saying this to Entertainment Weekly.

“I’m learning things as you are. I will say that it seems preposterous and wrong that the main character of the movie is not well represented in what is clearly a huge piece of the Star Wars world in terms of merchandising.”

Aside from saying that the Hasbro toy fiasco “doesn’t quite make sense” and “preposterous and wrong,” the director would tell all and sundry that he had made some phone calls as soon as he got wind of the terrible miss. Indeed, a toy character of Rey is missing in the new Star Wars Monopoly game by Hasbro.

The Guardian would elaborate further on the omission.

“A Hasbro toy version of the Millennium Falcon is accompanied by Chewbacca, Finn and BB-8 figurines, and a Target figurine pack has Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, Finn, Poe Dameron, a stormtrooper and a TIE fighter pilot. The current version of Star Wars Monopoly features four characters: Finn, Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader but no Rey.”

For those who are still new to the Star Wars genre, Rey is the main protagonist of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the latest movie episode in the Disney-acquired space opera series. Played by British actress Daisy Ridley, Rey is a scavenger and pilot all rolled up into one. While Rey is prominently displayed in movie posters, she is profoundly missing in toy merchandising.

As expected, Hasbro would react to the #wheresrey campaign, claiming, according to EW, that they “love the passion fans have for Rey, and are happy to announce that we will be making a running change to include her in the Monopoly: Star Wars game available later this year.”

The Hasbro spokesperson would also say that the reason for the omission was the toy company did not want to preempt the cinematic opening of The Force Awakens. This is a flimsy excuse, especially considering that Rey is already prominently featured in most of the launch posters.

Hasbro’s hand was caught in the cookie jar. However, there’s also Target caught with the smoking gun.

As one begins to see the forest from the trees, the big picture that emerges is that “excluding female characters in merchandise is an ongoing pattern,” concludes Caroline Framke at Vox. Women are simply not seen nor portrayed as action figures — at least, not as much as men. Therefore, a Tomb Raider character like Lara Croft would be more of an exception, rather than the rule.

Such a systemic issue is not only relegated to merchandising toys, it goes straight to the heart of the film itself. Star Wars fans have not missed the absence of gadgets surrounding Rey in the movie. All she has is a new android (BB-8) that doesn’t actually belong to her, but just happens to tag along.

The bottom line is this: Star Wars: The Force Awakens has portrayed the character as in such a dire state that she can’t even afford to have gadgets around her. She probably didn’t have toys growing up. And now that she lives alone as a scavenger who earns her keep by salvaging spaceship parts, she doesn’t have the luxury of keeping what she finds.

That would make Rey’s father, Luke, a spoiled brat by comparison. What is so amazing is that although she is the darkest horse of all dark horses, she manages to rise from the ashes like a true Phoenix. In the final analysis, it looks like Star Wars might have inadvertently given birth to a new heroine that defies many major cliches surrounding femininity. A kiss from no less than Princess Leia, now General Organa, cements that special bond, one that somehow seems to have the power to bind all the Star Wars flicks together in a kind of special galactic embrace.

[Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]